Hol­i­day mem­o­ries

LGBT folk share their rec­ol­lec­tions.

GA Voice - - Front Page - by DAVID AARON MOORE

Grow­ing up in a mod­est early 20th cen­tury house in my home­town back in N.C. meant one thing for sure — we weren’t the rich­est folks in town.

De­spite the fact we didn’t al­ways have the money to get ev­ery toy I saw or the hottest new car on the mar­ket — we did have a large ex­tended fam­ily that en­joyed spend­ing time to­gether.

In the early years when my sis­ters and I were still kids, the fam­ily would visit my grand­par­ents in Ruther­ford­ton, N.C., (the na­tives just skip right over those three syl­la­bles in the mid­dle and call it “Ruv-ton”) for the an­nual Thanks­giv­ing din­ner.

My grand­par­ents lived in a big old farm house that seemed like it was in the mid­dle of nowhere. I can still re­call rid­ing up a dirt road from a state road to get to their long drive­way. The minute the wheels of my dad’s Ford Fal­con sta­tion wagon touched the drive a hoard of mixed-breed mutts would charge down to meet us, bark­ing hap­pily as if to an­nounce to my grand­par­ents that visi­tors had ar­rived.

The same scene would play it­self out again mul­ti­ple times as aunts and un­cles would ar­rive with cousins and other fam­ily mem­bers.

By the time a crew of 25 or so had gath­ered, it was time to eat. My grand­mother — who was very much the por­trait of an el­derly woman from the Amer­i­can ’30s (sturdy shoes, a house dress, small round frame glasses, gray hair in a bun) — emerged from the kitchen. Her face was wet with sweat from cook­ing over the hot stove and the re­sult­ing steam had caused mul­ti­ple wisps of gray hair to loosen them­selves from the oth­er­wise tightly bobby-pinned bun.

“Are you folks ready for some Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner?” She would ask in her warm, grand­moth­erly voice.

Ev­ery year she would pre­pare the same thing: a ham, a tur­key, end­less selec­tions of beans: peas, green beans, pinto beans and lima beans (beans were not a fa­vorite of mine at this point in time — es­pe­cially li­mas and green peas), stuff­ing, mashed pota­toes, cran­berry sauce (jel­lied and shaped like a can), mac­a­roni and cheese and bas­kets and bas­kets of din­ner rolls.

The adults would serve them­selves and all gather at the large for­mal ta­ble in the din­ing room, while the chil­dren were served by my grand­mother per­son­ally at smaller ta­bles she had sat up in the den.

For the years I can re­call, and be­fore she be­came too frail for big fam­ily gath­er­ings, this was the stan­dard pro­ce­dure.

I would al­ways end up at the same seat at the same lit­tle ta­ble. And it was al­ways the ta­ble with the strange lit­tle drawer. So per­fect for putting things in. So odd that I was al­ways so care­fully guided to that place.

“You sit here,” she would say, point­ing to the place I knew she would. Then she would place my two sis­ters and a cousin at the three other avail­able seats around the small, square ta­ble.

A few min­utes later she would re-emerge from the kitchen, plates loaded up with all of the afore­men­tioned items and in­vari­ably a heap­ing help­ing of li­mas or green peas. She al­ways looked me di­rectly in the eye and smiled whim­si­cally as she placed the plate in front of me. “Be sure you eat all of that young man. You’re too skinny!”

I’m not ex­actly sure when it all be­gan, but at some point a few years prior — in an ef­fort to es­cape the foul tast­ing li­mas or green peas — I had scooped the of­fend­ing of­fer­ing into the tiny drawer in front of me.

Some­where along the way I think it be­came a game for my grand­mother. I can only imag­ine the first time it hap­pened she was hor­ri­fied to find a drawer of cast off lima beans.

At first she was prob­a­bly un­sure as to whom the cul­prit ac­tu­ally was — but af­ter the sec­ond year, I’m sure it be­came ob­vi­ous.

Why would she place me at the same seat each year? The beans were al­ways gone from the pre­vi­ous visit. There were never any moldy or pet­ri­fied bipo­dal seeds to be found in the empty drawer. Clearly, some­one must have cleaned them out. That some­one could only have been her. I en­vi­sioned in my head the con­ver­sa­tion she and my grand­fa­ther might have had the night be­fore.

“You know Bill and Dot will be down tomorrow with the kids?” She’d ask.

“Yes. And a bunch of other scream­ing lit­tle mon­sters,” my grand­fa­ther would moan. “We’re get­ting a might too old for this, don’t you think?”

“Don’t be silly,” she’d chuckle.

“Be­sides, I al­ways get a bit of a laugh out of mak­ing that jumpy lit­tle boy of theirs put his lima beans in the drawer again.”

Did she know? How could she not? Was she play­ing with me?

Re­gret­tably, I never found out the an­swer to the ques­tion. A few years later my grand­fa­ther died and shortly af­ter that grand­mother had a stroke — which landed her in a care fa­cil­ity. We went to visit her a few times, but she never re­ally did seem to rec­og­nize any of the grand­chil­dren.

For the most part — I re­call her as a quiet and se­ri­ous, well-man­nered woman. It’s dif­fi­cult for me to pic­ture her play­ing head games for a chuckle.

But it makes me laugh to think she prob­a­bly had the same twisted sense of hu­mor I do to­day. Ev­ery year around this time I can’t help but think of those days so long ago — and my grand­mother: a lit­tle old woman who was messin’ with my head on Thanks­giv­ing Day.

David Aaron Moore is the ed­i­tor of Ge­or­gia Voice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.